Do you ever make things just because you have all the things you need to make them?
Around Halloween I made a really cute mummy candle holder just because I could.
Usually when I wander into the kitchen looking for a creative outlet whatever I end up with is almost always a result of “yep, I have all the stuff to make that.”
It’s actually a pretty useful skill, especially when dinnertime rolls around and you have two hungry boys and a hungry man to worry about and you can’t stand the thought of having to go to the grocery store. I always wondered why my mom totally dreaded having to go to the grocery store. At 31 I finally have my answer: it’s because she had to go ALL THE TIME. My mom had to go to the grocery store so often when we were kids that the store manager knew her name (I didn’t make that up).
Well anyway having to run to the store every time you want to prepare a meal is annoying.
So I try not to do that.
Sometimes not going to the grocery store really pays off.
I had some bell peppers and zucchini that desperately needed a meal to be a part of. They were feeling really left out in the crisper drawer of the fridge, and their skin was starting to get a little wrinkly. So I chopped them up. I cut up an onion too for good measure.
I heated up some chicken broth and mixed it with the vegetables and some brown rice… well it wasn’t all brown rice. Some was white rice just so I could use up the little bit I had in the cabinet (this was just because I COULD, remember?). I poured my veggie-rice mixture into a baking dish, covered it with foil, and put it in the oven at 375 for about 35 minutes- just until all the liquid was absorbed.
And while that was going on I browned some mild Italian sausage in a skillet and drained off the extra grease. Italian sausage worked really well with this makeshift casserole, but it would also be fine with breakfast sausage, ground turkey or beef (seasoned of course), diced chicken, leftover taco meat… whatever strikes your fancy.
I set the sausage aside, pulled my cooked rice and vegetables out of the oven and then whisked together some milk and flour for a few minutes until it got bubbly and thickened. I reduced the heat and added something wonderful… cheese.
Oh delicious cheese sauce. Once my cheese was all melty I poured it over the rice and vegetables and stirred in the sausage. Then I sprinkled some more cheese over the top.
I dropped a few dollops of cream cheese across the top (because I didn’t have enough cream cheese to make a cheesecake) and then baked the whole thing for about 10 more minutes until the cheese was melted.
This was perfect for a warm cozy meal with the nonsense I had in my cabinets. It would be great for a potluck, as a side dish, or just because you can.
Sausage and Peppers Casserole
About 3 zucchini, diced
1/2 a red bell pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup rice
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups shredded cheese (colby, monterrey jack, mild cheddar, or a blend of these)
5 tablespoons of cream cheese (if desired)
Preheat the oven to 375. Heat the chicken broth and stir together with the zucchini, red and green bell peppers, onion, and rice. Pour into a baking dish (I used a pie plate. 8X8 or 9X13 would work as well, but if you use a 9X13 be sure to check more frequently while its baking because the bake time will change) cover with foil and bake for about 35 minutes (rice will be tender). While the vegetables and rice are baking brown the sausage in a skillet. Drain any excess grease and set aside. When the rice and vegetable mix comes out of the oven, uncover and set aside. In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat whisk together the milk and flour until bubbly and thick. reduce the heat to low and stir in 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese. When the cheese is melted pour over the rice and vegetables, add the sausage and stir until combined. Top the casserole with the remaining shredded cheese and drop the cream cheese across the top as desired. Bake uncovered for another 10 minutes.